3 reactions to Washington's first unofficial depth chart of 2021 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Washington Football Team released an unofficial depth chart on Monday (with the preseason opener scheduled for Thursday, it’s something the club had to do) and, like everything else in the NFL’s everything-matters-always universe, it’s worth looking over.
What Ron Rivera and the franchise put out to the public should be taken with a wheelbarrow’s worth of salt; Week 1 is still 34 days away and, as already mentioned, this was a mandatory exercise for the Burgundy and Gold. Jay Gruden, for example, used to laugh at the idea.
Therefore, don’t overreact.
But at the same time, it’s OK to, um, sorta react? Yeah, let’s call it that. So, here are three things worth noticing — and that’s it — about the first depth chart of 2021.
The order at punt returner
At punt returner, receiver DeAndre Carter, who’s done more at camp than was expected of him, is listed ahead of Steven Sims, who was the primary guy in 2020. Sims could’ve locked down the job with a strong campaign last year for Rivera, but now he and Carter appear to be neck and neck.
Since 2017, no one has a worse punt return average than Washington; their group of special teamers has registered just 5.7 yards-per-attempt dating back to that season, which is beyond meager.
So, while this position only impacts a handful of snaps each week, Rivera could certainly use a boost from whoever ultimately wins the gig. Perhaps Carter, who’s logged 63 returns in his career for a clip of 9.3 yards per, could provide it over Sims.
Left guard lineup
Wes Schweitzer took over at left guard after Wes Martin struggled to begin 2020, and Schweitzer’s name is still at the top of the chart despite this offseason’s addition of Ereck Flowers. That feels right, based on what we’ve seen at camp.
Though Flowers has more name value thanks to being a former first-rounder and a real success story for Washington back in 2019, Schweitzer should be a guy that fans get to know. In the trenches, things get nasty, and Schweitzer isn’t afraid to mix it up. He may not be a brick wall in terms of his pass blocking, but he can certainly move opponents around in the run game.
Should this particular part of the depth chart remain the same, Rivera should feel confident in Schweitzer as his starter at left guard and Flowers as the backup. Those two boast a hefty amount of experience between them.
The backup defensive ends
Chase Young and Montez Sweat should (and will) play and dominate on the majority of defensive reps this year. That said, they’ll need breaks here and there — and this edition of the depth chart highlights the lack of juice behind them.
James Smith-Williams is slotted in as the No. 2 after Young, while Casey Toohill is the second option following Sweat. Then, seventh-round rookies William Bradley-King and Shaka Toney make up the third wave.
All together, that quartet has .5 pro sacks between them. Now, they’re all young, so hopefully, one or two of them can capitalize on their upside and become a useful rotational piece. But if a veteran on the edge from another organization is released before Sep. 12, Rivera could also, and without blame, decide to bring him in to support his two stars.